Self-Driving Cars: Legal in Florida and an Advantage for Seniors? Cars: Legal in Florida and an Advantage for Seniors?

Seniors…have you been paying attention to advancements in technology that could directly benefit you? If not, you’re going to want to learn a little bit more about one advancement that may sound slightly impossible. Self-driving cars as of 2016, were legalized in Florida but not too many people know this. Have you seen cars driving around with no driver? Chances are you might have and if so, they were likely an Uber or Lyft “RoboTaxi”. So, why is this something that’s helpful for seniors specifically? 

There are still high numbers of seniors living in Florida that may not have access to transportation that can accommodate not just their daily or weekly schedules but emergencies as well. The absence of reliable transportation is also a social determinant directly affecting health. This could result in higher rates of isolation and worse health conditions. 

The thing is, while there is transportation available throughout 67 Florida counties for seniors that need it, it’s often not going to be the best choice if you have an emergency and need to leave a location within minutes. Not to mention, the concern for safety when it comes to public transportation or being picked up by a driver. Sometimes, you need additional options…options that put safety and convenience first. 

Welcoming the Future

Florida has been a big welcomer of self-driving technology and automation throughout the state. But there has been little direction as to who might best benefit from these advancements aside from those that want to just try it for the experience. Self-driving technology can solve a lot of problems for seniors. Did you know that in 2019, 21.2 out of every 100,000 deaths of seniors in Florida were related to violent injuries? This is very much above the national average and Florida actually ranked as the most dangerous state for seniors. As of 2023, things like this are still of concern although there are cities and communities that are considered to be much safer for seniors compared to other areas. The issue is when seniors need to get from point A to point B at certain times of the day. As the day transitions into night, depending on where you are, it can be more dangerous for seniors to wait for or to try and navigate public transportation. There is also the concern for safety when using a rideshare with an actual driver. 

Of course, not all drivers have bad intentions, but it can make seniors or any solo rider a bit uneasy especially if they aren’t used to using rideshare services and have never had to exercise certain precautions to stay safe while doing so. Uber and Lyft offer significant safeguards to protect their riders but along with those measures they are now offering driverless rideshare options and that is something that can take away additional worry. 

How to Call a Self-Driving Uber or Lyft

It’s pretty easy to call a self-driving rideshare and the process is the same as calling one that will be manned by an actual person. Users can access the Uber or Lyft app on their smartphones, select the autonomous vehicle option, and input their desired destination. To start, you can select UberX or Uber Comfort Electric options. You will have the chance to be matched with this type of vehicle and riders will also have the option to actually opt into the self-driving ride. This happens before the trip is confirmed, so you will know the type of car you’re getting.

The app provides real-time updates on the vehicle’s estimated arrival time, allowing users to plan their trips accordingly and this is also a good option if you want to keep track of your movements for safety purposes. The seamless and user-friendly interface that both Uber and Lyft offer ensures that seniors can easily use this innovative mode of transportation. Keep in mind that you will only see options available to you depending on the area where you are located.

Seniors, There Are Other Benefits That Are Hard to Deny

Older adults often face challenges related to physical limitations, declining vision, and slower reaction times, making them more susceptible to accidents on the road when driving themselves or even when navigating public transportation. It’s not abnormal to feel rushed as well using public transport and this is something that Uber and Lyft driverless rides are eliminating. The advanced sensors and cameras of autonomous vehicles constantly monitor their surroundings, detecting potential hazards and avoiding collisions so yes, it is safe although it might take some getting used to after your first ride. Overall, this technology significantly reduces the risk of accidents and provides seniors with a sense of security while traveling.

Also, don’t overlook the fact that transportation plays a crucial role in maintaining an active and independent lifestyle for older adults. With self-driving cars, seniors gain the freedom to travel to medical appointments, social events, and other activities without relying on family members or public transportation. This newfound independence can have a positive impact on their mental and emotional well-being, reducing feelings of isolation and enhancing their overall quality of life. Additionally, if you didn’t already know you can get a monthly membership to make the experience even more worth it. With Uber, for example, it would be called an Uber Pass. You would pay a monthly fee and with your membership, you don’t just get savings on ride-shares. You also get discounts on UberEats deliveries and grocery delivery…two things that are greatly beneficial to seniors.

A Safe and Efficient Transportation Option at Your Disposal

Florida has accepted a groundbreaking transportation option. However, it is still essential to acknowledge that the development of self-driving cars is an ongoing process. While the technology has made remarkable advancements, there are still challenges to overcome, such as regulatory frameworks, cybersecurity concerns, and public acceptance. These are very normal considerations when it comes to just about anything new though still making the technology a great option for seniors that want to tap into a bit more convenience.

While it might seem new and somewhat daunting at first, the safety benefits of self-driving cars, combined with the potential for improved wellness and community involvement make it worth it. Do you think you’ll give it a try?